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Friday, July 8, 2011

The State of Teaching

First posted audio message

Watching my four-year-old son, Liam, sit at a computer and figure out how it works has opened my eyes to a whole new level of what digital natives really are. I was surprised by how quickly he learned commands to navigate programs just simply by clicking things and then trying to remember where those things went to last time.

He seems very comfortable with the mouse and using the buttons is certainly helped by his hand-eye coordination. Right now he's playing I Spy games on the computer and he finds it very interesting. The use of these games has furthered his computer skills before he even enters kindergarten in the fall.

Our students live (and think) in a world that acts and feels alien to the majority of us. They expect interaction and socialization and are typically underwhelmed by what they find in our classrooms.

While some argue that learning in a traditional model is good for them - it will help them to function in the "real world." What if our antiquated notion of the world is finally catching up with us? Most of what we strive to keep familiar is constantly under fire from improvements and technological developments. You would have a difficult time identifying something that has not been impacted by technology in one way or another in the past 30 years.

The bottom line is that teaching needs to shift in ways that most teachers will cringe at.

Students need control over how they learn. The curriculum will serve as the framework: the teacher as the learning guide. Expert teachers no longer need to be subject specialists - they should be dynamic, empowering movers of student will.

Amazing teachers will be those who cast aside their preconceived notions of what teaching is and bravely move towards what it needs to be. If students could vote and rate their teachers with pay scale and placement implications - this conversation would be far more pressing to those who need it.

Future teachers may as well be trained in a classroom setting with students as their advisors - who better to make the training relevant and efficient than those digital natives fully living in the 21st century world.

Teachers need to navigate, supervise, counsel, question, facilitate, guide and learn themselves - that is what teaching is and should be.

Any questions about how to begin and where to start should be directed at those that matter - the students you "teach."

Recorded on iPhone and posted with VR+ Lite.

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